Portage, IN is an old town, dating back to Native Americans known as the Mound Builders. There is some question about which European explorer actually set foot there first but famous names like Joliet and Marquette are often mentioned as its “discoverers.”
There’s no question, though, that the Portage of today is a thriving lakefront community with a population of nearly 37,000. Portage experienced a residential building boom in the 1970’s, nearly doubling the number of houses in town and has enjoyed continued growth to the more than 15,000 homes in the city today. As in most cities in the area, any or all of these Portage homes are subject to wet basements.
Like most homes in northwest Indiana, houses in Portage are subject to conditions that make wet basements likely:
High Water Table – There is water in the ground everywhere and the highest level to which this ground water rises is called the water table; a high water table increases the chances that basement seepage will occur. One of the causes of a high water table is proximity to a body of water so Portage, with its location on the shores of Lake Michigan, has a higher than normal water table and an increased likelihood of wet basements occurring.
Sandy Soil – With the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore nearby, it’s no surprise that many northwest Indiana towns, including Portage, have a high percentage of sand in their soil. Sandy soil drains well and doesn’t expand from saturation but it may actually drain too well, causing snowmelt and rain water to overwhelm drain tile systems.
Concrete Block Foundations – Foundations constructed of concrete block are common in northwest Indiana and homes in Portage are no exception. Concrete block foundations are strong and stable but they create opportunities for water intrusion not found in poured concrete foundations. Seepage often occurs through mortar joints, especially if they are cracked or damaged, and through the block itself, which is porous.
Drain Tile – Drain tile is a sub-surface drainage system that is one of the most useful tools in repairing and preventing wet basements. Interior drain tile lies next to the foundation’s footings along the inside perimeter of the basement and relieves hydrostatic pressure to stop seepage through the cove joint and cracks in basement floors. Exterior drain tile is installed similarly but on the outside of the foundation where it relieves lateral pressure from soil and drains away ground water that can seep in through mortar joints, leaky windows and porous concrete block.
Exterior Waterproofing Membrane – Made of asphalt-modified polyurethane, an exterior waterproofing membrane seals a foundation against water intrusion from the exterior. Particularly effective on Portage’s concrete block foundations, the exterior waterproofing membrane is troweled on to the foundation in a thick coat after it has been excavated to footing level. The membrane works even better when covered with heavy-duty drainage board that channels water down to exterior drain tile.
Crack Repair – Not every foundation in Portage is concrete block; some newer homes have poured concrete foundations. These foundations are subject to non-structural cracking and these cracks allow water to seep into the basement. The best way to repair cracks is to inject them from the interior with expanding polyurethane that fills and seals the cracks all the way to outside soil, remaining flexible when cured to prevent minor foundation movement from re-opening the crack. When cracks are not accessible from the inside, they can be repaired from the exterior with sodium bentonite clay, which forms an impenetrable barrier against water on the “positive side” of the foundation wall.
No matter what the source of water or the method of repair, a Portage homeowner with a wet basement needs one thing – the advice of an experienced basement waterproofing contractor that knows the area and its homes. At U. S. Waterproofing, we’ve been repairing wet basements for homeowners in Portage and all over northwest Indiana for decades, so why not ask for our free advice?
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